Peter Lemer Quintet

Son of Local Colour
ESP 5031

With the glut of film sequels involving Sci-Fi and superheroes as well as albums featuring reunions of bands which broke up fairly recently, it’s refreshing to find this top-notch disc by a band which waited half a century to record a follow-up to its first LP. With only one personnel change, due to illness, and additional tunes, British pianist Peter Lemer and associates came up with new takes on the material they recorded in 1968 – hence the title.

In the interim none have been idle, usually in Jazz-Rock settings. Drummer Jon Hiseman (1944-2018) founded Colosseum and played with groups ranging from United Jazz + Rock Ensemble to the Bluesbreakers. It’s the same for bassist Tony Reeves, who worked with among others, Curved Air and Davy Graham. Saxophonist John Surman moved from groups like SOS to record many chilled discs for EC; while Lemer’s non-Jazz credentials include In Cahoots, the Baker-Gurvitz Army and Paraphernalia. One-third of SOS, ringer Alan Skidmore, in for an ill George Khan, made discs with group ranging from the European Jazz Quintet to Amampondo.

Skidmore’s admitted influence is showcased on “Impressions”, the date’s one misstep, since the original of John Coltrane “Impressions” is too strong for emulation. Carla Bley’s stop-time “Ictus” fares much better though, with loping pianism, subtle bass and drum accompaniment and both saxophonists eating up the changes, ferociously or delicately as needed..

Despite all being in their seventies, musicianship among the players is at a uniformly high level, with each of the recreations at least as moving and powerful as the previously recorded version. Maturity, increased technical prowess and improvisational sophistication probably make these new versions superior. Featured on “Carmen” and “Big Dick”, for instance, Lemer expands on a post Bill Evans-McCoy Tyner vocabulary with modal voicing and concentrated note building. Limpid and relaxed on the former tune, he makes room for vamping saxes, while on “Big Dick” his splattering keyboard pressure presage Surman’s shrill theme variations and Skidmore’s buoyant clarion emphasis. Pinpointing the band’s 50-year advancement “URH”, a Surman composition, moves forward in march time. Pulled further out without losing the groove, it’s borne on Reeves’ echoing pumps, Lemer’s concise yet decorated chording and slurs and snarls from the composer.

Unlike the ennui related to ongoing Star Wars and comic book franchise sequels, Son of Local Colour is a rare amplification of the original. Death and circumstances though mean that it won’t be repeated.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Ciudad Enahenado 2. Ictus 3. Flowville 4. Carmen 5. Impressions 6. Big Dick 7. URH 8. In the Out

Personnel: Alan Skidmore (tenor saxophone); John Surman (baritone and soprano saxophones); Peter Lemer (piano); Tony Reeves (bass) and Jon Hiseman (drums)